ELIDA — If it wasn't Crestview's defense giving Miller City fits, it was their ability to hit big shots.
the Wildcats battled to overcome a poor shooting first half, the
Knights hit a pair of big three-pointers to slow Miller City's comeback
efforts. Once the Knights did that, they turned up their defensive
pressure and ended the Wildcats comeback hopes on their way to a 54-39
win in the Division IV district finals at the Elida Fieldhouse.
win sends the top ranked Knights (25-0) to the regional semi-finals at
the Stroh Center Tuesday night against Ottawa Hills. Miller City ended
its season with a 16-9 record.
Crestview's defense stepped up
early before a near packed house at Elida holding the Wildcats without a
field goal for nearly 10 minutes in the first half before Cory Heuerman
hit a short jumper. Despite the Wildcats poor shooting, they were still
in the game as their defense limited Crestview's offense as the Knights
were up 10-7 after the basket. However, the Knight defense limited much
of the Wildcats first half scoring to free throws as Miller City was
1-of-21 from the floor and 10-of-12 at the line as Crestview took a
26-12 halftime lead. Crestview ended the first half with a 16-5 run as
they hit three three-pointers and a three point play.
their first half struggles, the Wildcats came out in the second half
cutting the Knight lead to nine at 30-21 on an Adam Niese basket.
Crestview bumped the lead back to 16 points at 37-21 on four points by
Tyson Bolenbaugh and a three-pointer by Damian Helm. The Wildcats pulled
within 37-26 as Adam Drummelsmith scored three points and Niese scored
Mitchell Rickard pushed the Knight lead back to 14 with a three-pointer from the top of the key before two free throws by Niese and a three-pointer by Jacob Gereten had Miller City within nine going to the fourth quarter.
opened the fourth quarter scoring as Connor Lautzenheiser and Helm
knocked down three-pointers while Jackson Lammers hit a pullup jumper
for the Wildcats. Needing points the Wildcat offense cooled off as they
wouldn't score again until there was 2:07 left when Drummelsmith hit two
free throws. By then Miller City trailed 54-35 as Crestview went on an
8-0 run during the Wildcats cold spell.
Six of the points came on
the inside as Crestview forced Miller City to abandon its zone defense
by holding the ball. And once they forced the Wildcats into a man
defense, Crestview was able to work the ball and find wide open lanes to
the basket as Cam Etzler scored on two layups and Bolenbaugh was wide
open in the middle for an easy layup.
“We didn't get off to the
start we did in our first two tournament games and that's a credit to
Miller City,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said. “We had some
opportunities early that we didn't convert, but I thought ur kids
defensively started to wear on them and we were able to extend there
just before the half. They kept coming and coming at us, but we were
able to respond. The bottom line was that we were able to execute
defensively and make some shots.”
Helm paced the Knights with 21
points, six rebounds and five assists, whle Bolenbaugh had 12 points, 13
rebounds and six blocked shots. Etzler added nine points and dished out
eight assists. Crestview finished the game with 17 assists and
outrebounded the Wildcats 34-25.
Niese had a double-double for
the Wildcats with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Drummelsmith added eight
points and Heuerman six points, three assists and seven rebounds.
“We didn't start out shooting the ball real well again tonight and who thought our
free throw shooting would keep us in it,” Miller City coach Bryan
Kuhlman said. “Our kids had a lot of fight in them, it just wasn't
enough. They are a good team and you have your 'A' game and hope for a
little bit of an off night for them and tonight it just didn't happen
After starting the game 1-of21 from the floor, Miller
City hit 9-of-20 shots in the second half as they were 10-of-41 for the
game. Miller City hit 17-of-20 free throws (85 percent) after coming
into the contest shooting 58 percent from the line for the season.